21 September 2014

Instagram Solitary Challenge Showcase

This week the response to the Solitary Challenge was overwhelmingly greater than the previous week's Creative Blur. It was very difficult to select only a few images to showcase here. To view all of the entries, visit Instagram and search by hashtag #aom_solitary.

Solitary means different things to different people. It is interesting to see the type of images entered as it reveals a bit about how a person interprets the meaning of the word.


Exquisite lighting and beautiful tones on this entry by @just_dragonfly (below).

@just_dragonfly
@just_dragonfly
Solitary doesn't demand the inclusion of a human subject. @chris_stern beautifully depicts the theme with this entry (below).

@chris_stern
@chris_stern

@medelweiss
@medelweiss

@lochthyme1
@lochthyme1

@marietteschrijver
@marietteschrijver

@klimtt
@klimtt

@jfmaddocks
@jfmaddocks

@sirreal
@sirreal

@strongcomet
@strongcomet

@phot0bug
@phot0bug

@lorenka
@lorenka

@sunflowerof21
@sunflowerof21

@kaleidoscope14
@kaleidoscope14

@jjeannie3
@jjeannie3

@jmag57
@jmag57

@pasi68
@pasi68

@rdepaolo
@rdepaolo

@harrysonpics
@harrysonpics

@skipology
@skipology
@bws.cattis
@bws.cattis

@salopalo
@salopalo

@kapinski
@kapinski

@baroquepig
@baroquepig
@lucizoe
@lucizoe
Simplicity marks this entry by @justjody59 (below). Solitary can even be depicted by a single grain of rice.

@justjody59
@justjody59 

@alon_goldsmith
@alon_goldsmith

@paulcutrightphoto
@paulcutrightphoto

@j_sarinana
@j_sarinana

@trishg61
@trishg61

This week's theme is "fall".  What does that mean to you? A season, an action or something else? Post to #aom_fall. Showcase will post on Sunday, September 28th.




iOS 8 Update - My Experience

iOS 8 First Impressions
I was going to wait to download iOS 8, but since I recently purchased the new iPhone 6, it was already installed. I don't know if it was a carrier issue, an iOS 8 issue or an iPhone 6 issue but when I first started using my new iPhone 6, I had a slew of voice mail messages that belonged to a different person. In fact, the phone was not even set up to my phone number, but I hadn't noticed it until I started playing the voice mail messages. Coincidentally the person's name was also Geri! One caller wished me a Happy Birthday for this coming Monday...my birthday is in November. A quick trip back to the Verizon store and they fixed that issue by restarting the phone??? The store manager said some crazy things had been happening so he wasn't surprised.


With only a day of using iOS 8 on my new iPhone 6, here are some of the features I already like:

Double-clicking on the Home button now brings up a list of recent contacts which allows easy access for phone calls, messages and email.  




Battery hogging apps? Check Settings > General > Battery Usage. You'll can view the Battery Usage for the past 24 hours by app. 

When you dictate a message or email using the microphone you now get a real-time talk to type display so the text is shown as you speak rather than waiting until after you finish speaking to post the text. I found it to be more accurate as well.

Improved editing tools right from the Photos app including some new adjustments for Light, Color and B & W, a Straightening Tool and access to other editing apps without leaving the Photos app. I haven't figured out how the new cropping tool works. You can select your ratio like Square, 2:3, 5:7, but I haven't yet determined how to switch 2:3 to 3:2. Any help? Please leave in the comments.

Apple's Camera app now has a self-timer and the ability to tap to focus and then manually adjust exposure while shooting an image. Just slide your finger up and down near the yellow focus box on the screen. 

Delete a photo by mistake? Well, now there's a Recently Deleted Album that allows you to restore an image up to 30 days after deletion. Each image displays the number of days remaining before it is permanently deleted. 



If you have a favorite image in Photos, you can now tap the heart icon which adds that image to a Favorites Album. This helps when taking multiple similar shots to identify the one you like most. 

Predictive typing makes composing texts, comments and email a lot easier. Android users have had this for quite some time now, so it's nice to have finally have this added to iOS devices. Some people hate this feature and have disabled it in their settings but It's a timesaver, so I like it.

iPad Buggy!
On my iPad 4, iOS 8 has been a bit buggy...Here's what I'm finding:

iPad occasionally goes black and I can't manually restart it. I just have to wait about a minute and the screen returns.

Some apps are crashing while using and this has never been a problem before.

Sometimes tapping or sliding doesn't get an immediate response from the app - this varies and hasn't been a consistent problem for any particular app.

Due to the changes in the Camera Roll, there is a huge change with most of my editing apps. In some apps you cannot access All Photos, but instead only Recently Added photos. This limits your choice to photos taken only in the last 30 days. For many of us this is a problem because we keep images on our devices to edit at a later date, not necessarily falling within the 30 day limit. The work around for this is to add a photo you want to edit to an existing album or create a new one and then you will be able to access the image by opening that album within an app. Hopefully all app developers will be aware of this issue and update their apps accordingly.

Get Help with iOS 8 
If you have recently downloaded iOS 8 for your iPhone you may want to download Apple's free iPhone User Guide for iOS 8 available on iBooks. It includes a digitally formatted book with everything you need to know about the latest update. Learn about the latest features and how to use them. 

It contains 182 pages of basic information about iOS 8.


Have you updated? If so, what are your initial thoughts?





19 September 2014

Win a Square Meter Wall Art Print with Picerty

Picerty is an app available for the iPhone and on the web for creating a collection of nine images. These collections can be used for sharing on social media, displaying a group or series of photographs as part of a portfolio, organizing your family or event photos and so much more. This would be a great tool for people who do digital scrapbooking. 

I created this grid to post as part of an online journal I keep. Photos are from a recent family wedding.
All Images © Geri Centonze
First select nine images. The images can each be placed in a grid of nine square or round frames (included with the free app). Flower and heart frames are available with an in-app purchase of $0.99/each. You can also purchase the option for Hi-Res Download for an additional $2.99. 

Once you've created and saved your grid, you can also buy prints directly from the app - Greeting Cards, Posters, Wall Stickers with more items coming soon.

Win Wall Art!
Right now you can create your own grid and enter it in a competition for a chance to win a Square Meter of Wall Art Print. The prize is a 100x100 cm Picerty removable wall sticker.

For details on how to enter visit the Picerty Sweepstakes Facebook Page.






18 September 2014

The Whole Story by Coy Townson

The Photograph

Grace © Coy Townson


The Whole Story

This image is from a series of which the theme was inspired by Joni Sternbach’s “Surfland”. I originally set out to shoot only in a tintype style using Hipstamatic to mimic wet plate photography. While shooting, I found some great light as we moved around the area. This particular site consisting of a six lane bridge crossing a river near my house has been a great place to shoot due to the changing light throughout the day. The photo was taken just before sundown on a very hot, but clear summer day. While I was switching through apps, as I normally do to cover one scene with my iPhone, I noticed the extra contrast with my setup in KitCamera (Vignette Lens / Kathryn Film). I tend to be drawn to this type of look due to the drama created by the heavy contrast. I love how this image turned out, encompassing many elements of design; strong negative space, balance in texture, bi-directional vanishing points...straight from the camera with no editing other than a small crop. Personally, I really like the spot of light falling on her nose, giving shape to the dark shadow that covers her face. 

PHOTOGRAPHIC INSPIRATIONS

Joni Sternbach, Greg Gorman, Dana Fineman, Ed Ross, Robb Kendrick, Roger Clay, Alan Hess


The Photographer - Coy Townson

So I draw, take pictures and cut and paste. I'm lucky enough though that being creative not only consumes my life, but also my career. I reside in California where the fruits of my labor range from commercial design and wedding photography to monolith size murals for the largest beer maker in the world. As for photography, I started playing with cameras while studying art in college, but didn't take it serious until the late 1990's. I had to fill my need for commercial photos while working as a designer - what it was actually doing was filling the void of drawing which I had no time or patience for anymore. Since then I've found that I enjoy shooting single subject black and white portraits most of all. I think the face is the most telling of the human story. Strip away the environment and all that surrounds us and focus only on the human element.

Recently I’ve been exploring a tintype style that lends itself to individual portraiture. The camera alone has undergone a drastic evolution in its short life amongst modern technology, the biggest change taking place in the last twenty years with the advent of digital photography. Within that time technology also changed the way we communicate with each other. Our telephone, mail, music, television and now cameras come packaged in a nifty little all-in-one device called the cell phone. Seeing the fun in this pocket sized gadget, I embraced the cell phone camera from the beginning. I used every mobile device I could get my hands on. The limitations challenged the creativity as it did in the early days of photography. Once smart phones with camera apps became available, I realized the medium had come full circle and we're now back to adjusting the camera prior to capturing the image. So, what we see is what we get with instant gratification. For me, it’s brought enjoyment back to the act of taking pictures. Luckily, I’ve got three wonderful children who love playing guinea pig for my experiments. The photo in question is of my daughter Grace just before her tenth birthday.


17 September 2014

Featured Photographer 7thkind

Through the Steller App, I discovered a photographer who shares his work under the name of 7thkind. The story of how he learned to appreciate his city through photography was my introduction to his work. He was kind enough to agree to an interview.



What is your name and where do you live?
NJ:  My name is Nick Junior but social handle is "7thkind" and I'm from Toronto.


© 7thkind

I know you shoot with both your iPhone and DSLR, but the focus here is on your mobile work. How did you get started with mobile photography? What device do you use?
NJ:  Yes I recently started posting DSLR work on my Instagram feed but I got started in the mobile photography scene about a year ago when I told myself that I should start using Instagram more. I followed friends and others then followed a photographer who I was a fan of on tumblr. I checked to see who he was following and from there it opened up a whole new thing with taking photos with your phone was cool (to me) but all I had at the time was an iPod Touch. I went to my first Instameet here in Toronto to get a sense of what the community was like and everyone had the iPhone 5's and stuff and Samsung Galaxy's and there I am with an iPod Touch. From there it ignited the motivation to finally leave my Blackberry and switch to an iPhone. As time flies and the more people you follow you get an idea of what you want to express through your photos.


© 7thkind

© 7thkind

Who or what inspires you?
NJ:  There are a lot of people that inspire me realistically but one person who I look up to really got me to be more involved with my work/subject. That would be Jonathan Mannion. If you don't know him you've probably seen his work around a lot if you're a fan of the hiphop culture. Everyone should google him haha.

I came across your work while checking out the stories on Steller. I loved yours story about Toronto and learning to love your city. How did photography help you on that journey?
NJ:  Thank you! Photography to me personally was like searching for your self. As I mentioned in that story, I was really disappointed about where I lived because I wanted the city to be 'that city' that everyone talks about. After following and meeting some cool urban explorers here in Toronto you start to feed off of their vibe and where they go and you really start to appreciate the little things that you've never seen before or seen often in a new perspective and from there it led me to really find the gold that the city has. A perfect example would be when I started climbing to the top of buildings to get to the roof. You see a whole new city, a new perspective of your home. You really take in so much that you appreciate it even more and when it boils down, it all originally started with my passion for photography. 


© 7thkind

© 7thkind

Do you plan your shoots or just go about your day and photograph when something catches your eye?
NJ:  I usually go about my day and get what catches my eye. I will plan here and there but rarely because usually, through experience, every time I plan on doing something, my expectation is so high that if my plan fails it just seems like a waste of time but at the same time it's a learning process on what to expect, so just going about my day is always better for me cuz I get to capture moments and make decisions based on how I'm feeling as soon as I get into the city. One day I get into the city, I may want to shoot subway lines or climb roofs etc.


© 7thkind

© 7thkind

Do you do a lot of post processing of your images? If so, what are your favorite apps?
NJ:  Yes I do a lot of post processing. My top apps for editing my iPhone photos would be Snapseed, VSCO, and Afterlight. Great apps.

Have you ever exhibited or sold your work? If not, any plans to do so?
NJ:  I have never exhibited my work before but I've had two opportunities to do so but complications arose and it stopped me from doing it. I haven't sold my work yet as well but I will soon. Just trying to build a larger audience first.


© 7thkind

© 7thkind

What advice would you give to photographers just starting out?
NJ;  The best advice I can really give to anyone starting out would be to just do what you're doing with passion. If you're doing something long enough and if that passion still remains, you will start to see opportunities arise to get you farther in what you're pursuing. Everything happens for a reason.


© 7thkind

Find Nick:  Instagram / Steller / Website / Flickr

Apps Mentioned:

16 September 2014

iPhone Photography School Releases New Video Series

Most of us in the iPhone photography world are familiar with the name Emil Pakarklis. Emil is the creator of the iPhone Photography School website and has impacted tens of thousands with his knowledge about this genre of photography. I'm pleased to have had a recent conversation with Emil about his site, his advice for iPhone photographers and his exciting new video course!

© Emil Pakarklis

A lot of people are familiar with you and your role in the iPhone Photography community, but for those who aren't, please tell me how you got started with iPhone photography. 

EP: I was always interested in photography because it was a way for me to express the creative side of my personality. And even though I had other cameras in the past, on most days they never left the shelf, and they were never there when I needed them the most.

All of that changed when I got iPhone 4S about two and a half years ago. All of a sudden I had a great camera with me wherever I go. I was hooked, and my passion for photography became stronger than ever before, though the results I was getting at first were somewhat disappointing.

© Emil Pakarklis


When did you start the iPhone Photography School website?

EP: I started iPhone Photography School about two years ago when I was really determined to get better at iPhone photography myself. While there were several iPhone photography blogs at that time (most of which are no longer active), there weren’t any good resources for people who wanted to improve the quality of their photos, so I started to share what I was learning.

Of course, I had no idea how popular my hobby blog would eventually become. Today iPhone Photography School is read by about 270,000 people per month, and last month I hired an editor to further develop the iPhone Photography School community.

© Emil Pakarklis

How did being a recommended user on Instagram boost your audience?

EP: The short answer would be rapidly. I have been a suggested user on two separate occasions, and each time I was getting about 1000 new followers per day. It was rewarding to be able to share my photos with so many new people, but at the same time the quality of followers I was getting was much lower than it would be from an audience grown organically.

Since I was featured relatively late when Instagram was already a huge social network, a lot of the followers that I was getting were not necessarily interested in my photography, and I was also getting a never-ending stream of “please follow me” type of comments.

If you’d like to check out my account, you can find it @iPhonePS on Instagram.

© Emil Pakarklis

Your photo contests are extremely popular on EyeEm and the results are nothing short of amazing with all the fabulous work being entered. Why did you switch to the EyeEm forum from Instagram?

EP: Actually, there were three reasons for making the change.

The first reason was that EyeEm stores photos at a much higher resolution than Instagram, and as I was working to optimize iPhone Photography School for Retina displays, the resolution of Instagram photos was simply not sufficient to create a great photo viewing experience.

The second reason was that EyeEm accepts photos of all aspect ratios. While Instagram has made me love square compositions, not every photo should be a square, and I wanted to make sure that people could easily submit photos of all aspect ratios.

And finally, the average photo quality on EyeEm is much higher than it is on Instagram, and by making the move the average submission quality improved as well.

© Emil Pakarklis

And now for the reason I really asked to interview you. You recently released a new video series showing people how to see the world through the eyes of an iPhoneographer. Please tell me a bit more about this course.

EP: My goal with these free videos is to show people how they can start seeing the world through the eyes of an iPhone photographer, and how this approach can greatly improve the quality of the photos that they take. These videos are getting great reviews, but I won’t be able to keep them free forever, so if you’re interested, you have to watch them before September 23.

I’m also in the process of releasing the second version of my iPhone Photo Academy training program, and the free videos are a preview of some of the techniques that people are going to learn in the full program, which will be the first course that’s fully updated for iOS 8.


As someone who has viewed your tutorials I know your teaching style is definitely clear, thorough, and moves at a pace that can be followed easily. Is this new course useful to seasoned iPhone photographers as well as beginners?

EP: The short answer is yes. Even though seasoned iPhone photographers might be familiar with some of the techniques that I talk about in my videos, they’re still going to pick up many golden nuggets between the things that they are already familiar with.

Some iPhone Photo Academy students are people whose work I really admire, and even though they have a lot of experience in photography, they still enjoy the course as it allows them to look at their own work though different eyes and get ideas that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

© Emil Pakarklis

What is the single best advice you could give someone just starting on their iPhone photography journey?

EP: Focus on developing your creative vision and learning the fundamentals of photography.

I know that a lot of people are obsessed with apps, but chasing the latest and greatest app is not going to help you grow as a photographer. People always ask me what apps I use to take and edit my photos, but it’s never the apps that make my photos interesting.

People are often looking for a magic solution that will fix their problems overnight, but the truth is that there are no such quick fixes. You have to go through the learning process and develop your creative vision. There are no quick fixes that will instantly make your photos better.


Is there anything else you'd like to add?

EP: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my work with the Art of Mob audience, and thank you for everything you’re doing for the mobile photography community!